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Playing Safe: Kids and Eye Safety

It's crucial to know what sorts of toys are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.

Children are born with a partially developed visual system which, through stimulation, becomes more refined throughout their growing years. There aren't many things that encourage a child's visual development more easily than toys that encourage hand-eye coordination and a more concrete understanding of spaces and distances between objects. In the initial three months of life, a baby's ability to see color hasn't really developed, so high contrast black and white images of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are really conducive to stimulating visual development.

Because children spend a large amount of their day engaged in play with their toys, moms and dads must make sure their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their overall safety. To be safe, toys must be right for their age group. And it is just as important to be sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Although toy manufacturers specify targeted age groups on the box, it's still important for you to make the call, and be sure your son or daughter doesn't play with something that might be harmful to them.

A safe and educational toy for lots of ages is blocks, but for younger children, you need to inspect them for sharp edges and corners, to reduce the chance of eye injury. Also, take note of toy size. With toddlers, any object that can fit into their mouths is not recommended. Put that small toy away until your child is no longer at risk of choking.

Any plush toys are best if machine washable, and, for younger children, made without tiny pieces to pull off, like buttons, sequins or bows. Don't buy toys that have points or edges or any sharp parts for young children, and check that long-handled toys such as pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Closely watch toddlers when they play with those kinds of toys.

If your child is under 6 years old, be wary of toys projectiles, like dart guns. Even when they're older than 6, always supervise kids playing with those kinds of toys. Whereas, if you have teens who enjoy chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they wear safety goggles.

When you're next shopping for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions, take note of the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Ensure that there's no harm posed to your child.

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